The Poem That Took The Place Of A Mountain

There it was, word for word,
The poem that took the place of a mountain.

He breathed its oxygen,
Even when the book lay turned in the dust of his table.

It reminded him how he had needed
A place to go to in his own direction,

How he had recomposed the pines,
Shifted the rocks and picked his way among clouds,

For the outlook that would be right,
Where he would be complete in an unexplained completion:

The exact rock where his inexactness
Would discover, at last, the view toward which they had edged,

Where he could lie and, gazing down at the sea,
Recognize his unique and solitary home.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Wallace Stevens's poem The Poem That Took The Place Of A Mountain


  1. Andrew says:

    Trying to constrain a poet’s writings into a fit or style is very dangerous. Granted, poets do often write in congruent styles with similiar structures and ideas, but who knows, maybe he just sat down and in pure bliss of poetry, wrote this one. Maybe he wrote this poem as an expression of what poets should convey in their work or maybe he wrote it as an expression of one his own works. Until we ask him, we may never know.

  2. Kevin Brady says:

    It’s highly likely Stevens was thinking of Cezanne in this poem. It’s important to note that Stevens named Cezanne as one of his favorite painters, and a key artistic forebear. It’s a late homage (like “To an Old Philosopher in Rome”) that expressed his affinity & gratitude to his lifelong teacher & influence.

  3. juniper says:

    But Stevens hates subjective thought! He wrote (and his goal in life was ) to see without bias, to be able to see things as they really were. if he was a Romantic writer this would be in character, but being a modernist this does not seem like him. And isn’t “solitary” a lonely word with a negative connotation?

  4. Wilamu says:

    I was reading this poem for the first time in 1994 on a trip in Africa. I never understand it completely but after all these years the lines are still in my head. There is something inside this poem but I can not explain what it is….? I’m not a first English speaker and not a real poetry reader. Maybe that will explain it. Any way Thanks

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